Part of the problem with common sense, common courtesy and common knowledge is that none of them are particularly common. Another part of the problem is that they might not always be in your best interest either.
I’m writing this from the perspective of a professional freelance writer who has been running his own online business for nearly a decade, but the following thoughts can be applied to just about anyone looking to make a career for themselves as an independent business owner on the web. This includes all you budding affiliate marketers, Internet marketers, bloggers and consultants.
More Hours Mean More Money
When you come from the mindset of a typical office worker, you have the mentality of being paid an hourly wage. You might make $20, $40 or $100 an hour. Regardless of the actual amount, time spent in the office is directly correlated with the amount of money on your biweekly paycheck. And even if you’re paid an annual salary, there is the assumption that putting in the long hours will reflect well on you when it comes time to negotiate for a raise.
This is not at all the case for Internet entrepreneurs. I’m not saying that you won’t have to put in hours and hours of hard work. What I am saying that those hours don’t necessarily translate to more money. You need to get out of that mindset of trading hours for dollars and figure out the smarter way to spend those hours so that you can earn even more dollars. As Scrooge McDuck told us, work smarter, not harder.
If You Build It, They Will Come
How many of you have jumped head-first into the world of professional blogging, setting up your new site and loading it with a custom theme, cool sidebar widgets and some really awesome content, only to be disappointed when you see mere pennies in your AdSense account? You log into your Google Analytics and see that you’ve had less than 100 unique visits in the last month. That’s very disheartening and discouraging, right?
The fact of the matter is that just because you build it doesn’t mean that anyone will come. Building it is not enough and it will never be enough. Running a successful online business means that you have to pay attention to all the factors involved, including those that are outside of your normal wheelhouse. A little luck doesn’t hurt either.
Popular Things Must Be Good
If you see everyone else buying the same product, then it must be good, right? Arriving at the mall, you might see a large group of people make a mad dash toward an item on sale, so you assume that it must be a good deal, right? If everyone else is using it, it has to be good. Right?
Wrong. While there are certainly plenty of popular things that also happen to be very good, being popular doesn’t necessarily equate to being good or being the best. Simply emulating what other people are doing can only land you into a world of mediocrity.
If No One Is Doing It, It Must Be Bad
And on the flip side, the less popular and more obscure products are the ones that usually get forgotten. People don’t give a second thought to something that no one seems to know about and that no one is using. But you know what’s the beauty of that situation? If you embrace the underdog and you do a stellar job, you could carve out a very successful niche with very little direct competition.
Years ago, I wrote on my blog that dot com entrepreneurs are unconventional. The “normal” thing to do is to go to school, get a degree, and work your way up the corporate ladder. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you want to be an independent success online, you mustn’t be afraid to be different.
Working Online Isolates You
I work out of my home office. Alone. Most days, I might not even venture beyond my front door and I may not see another soul aside from my family. The common sense assumption here is that the life of an online entrepreneur is one of perpetual isolation and loneliness.
That can be the case if you allow it to be, but it is also inherently very limiting. The truth is that successful people like to associate with other successful people. That’s how I came to know John through Dot Com Pho. That’s how I came to network with other tech bloggers and site owners. Just because you work for yourself doesn’t mean you have to be by yourself.
Perhaps the biggest take-home lesson here is that what we do–making a real full-time living on the Internet, working when and where we want to–isn’t all that common to begin with, so it’s only reasonable that many common sense lessons and pieces of common sense knowledge do not apply. And I’m okay with that.